Whenever I visit any lawyer friends in either Islamabad or Rawalpindi, I meet many abused women — victims of domestic violence — who come to seek a legal recourse against their abusive husbands. Only the other day, I saw a highly qualified lady, an assistant professor in a college, who had come to sue her husband for personal injury.
Indeed, domestic violence has become an epidemic in Pakistani society but unfortunately, nowadays, it has alarmingly increased in urban areas as compared with rural society. Recent reports and reliable surveys conducted on urban Pakistani society suggest that nearly two in every four women experience domestic violence in their life — in the forms of verbal abuse, assault and battery, restriction of personal liberty, economic control, or marital rape. Several surveys conducted in women’s prisons also reveal significant correlation between domestic violence and crimes committed by women. One of the learned speakers, at a one-day workshop on ‘Prisoners’ Vulnerability: lacking awareness’ held at the Federal Judicial Academy, Islamabad, under the auspices of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, said that over 60 per cent of the women who committed crimes had suffered from domestic violence in the past. Keeping in view the growing domestic violence against women in urban Pakistan, it is suggested that the government should launch a series of reform projects and policy experiments to enhance the capacity of legal institutions and empower justice sector stakeholders to intervene and reduce domestic violence across the country.
While developing stronger legislation is sine qua non, it will be equally necessary to strengthen community level awareness and collect responses to incidences of domestic violence. Educational institutions may be taken on board to raise awareness about this chronic issue. Radio and television channels should be requested to show dramas and features, which discourage the growing inhuman tendency of violence against women in society. Above all, the National Commssion on the Status of Women should be asked to play a proactive role in raising awareness and advocacy against this despicable social behaviour in our society.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2013.